Massey Theatre will be joining the Canada Games Pool project at centre stage in 2021.
Mayor Jonathan Cote said council will make an official decision on whether to proceed with the pool project this year, once it has had a chance to review all of the tenders related to construction of the Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre replacement project. The city had planned to start work on the aquatic facility last year, but postponed construction because of the pandemic.
“Expect that to come forward, I would suspect, over the next little while,” he recently told the Record. “The city is also in negotiations to take over ownership of the Massey Theatre. We are now getting to that point where that transfer will hopefully start to happen, and the city will start to take over that. From an infrastructure point of view, those are two major projects that are going to be keeping us busy for the rest of 2021.”
Coun. Mary Trentadue is pleased the city will be taking over ownership of the Massey Theatre this year. She said the city, the school district and the province are in the process of sorting out all the legal pieces regarding the sale.
The New Westminster school district had originally considered building a new 1,000-seat theatre in the new high school and demolishing Massey Theatre. It was later decided the city would assume ownership of the existing 1,260-seat theatre, which is considered by many to be “a cultural gem” and a key venue for the performing arts in New Westminster.
“I think it adds an enormous amount of stability for the Massey Theatre Society and for arts in our community,” Trentadue said of city ownership of the theatre. “The theatre is an extremely well-used, highly-thought-of theatre asset in our city, but also in the region. I think that the city being involved will add some much-needed stability.”
Massey Theatre, however, needs some “love and care,” Trentadue said.
“It hasn’t really received a lot of upgrades or renovations in a very long time. The city will be able to add that,” she said. “The city is not taking over the running of the theatre. We are not going to be deciding what is shown or what is not shown there. It’s really just providing stability and security for the society, and also for all of the users. There are hundreds and hundreds of users of the theatre.”
Trentadue said she’s looking forward to reaching the finish line on the sale of Massey Theatre to the city and to begin preparing for the renovations that will be required in the next few years.
“We won’t be the official owners of the building till halfway through this year. Then once we own the building and we can start to consider what needs to be done immediately, what can be phased over a couple of years,” she said. “I suspect that we will probably get into some design and renovation conversations in the fall. Then in 2022 we will probably start rolling out a plan of what the renovation will look like.”
Trentadue said a lot of the renovations needed relate to the theatre’s internal infrastructure.
“You are not going to drive by Massey and think, ‘Oh my gosh, what did they do to that building? It’s so different,’” she said. “A lot of it you won’t see, but it really will help the building become more sustainable and last many more years.”